Scout Memories: The Turnabout Dance


Eddie Scheidler

In Eddie Scheidler’s “Scout Memories” column, he takes a sardonic look at some time-honored rites of passage at LFHS. 

Ah, Turnabout…one of the most magical times of the winter season for high school students all throughout Lake Forest. Nothing embodies that true high school experience quite like the yearly winter formal dance where this time around, the pressure of “asking” your date is shifted from the guys to the girls. For our, let’s just say, more experienced readers out there, the Sadie Hawkins dance is nothing all that new. And really, when it comes down to it, Turnabout is just like any other high school dance–awkward, stressful, sweaty, and interesting to say the least.

Before I continue on, I know what you’re all thinking: man oh man, is this guy a Debbie Downer? What’s he got against the dance? Why does he have to be so negative? And the honest and sincere truth is, you’ve got it all wrong. I strongly hold myself to the belief that school dances are the very essence in creating some of the best memories of your entire high school tenure, memories that will stick with you for the rest of your life. And there you have it–that’s about as motivational as this is going to get. Sorry to disappoint all you inspiring story-seekers out there. You see, I could go on and on about savoring each and every last minute of school dances because before you know it, they’ll be gone in the blink of an eye. But then again, that’s a conversation for another place, another time, and for the benefit of that argument itself, another writer, too. So, without further adieu, here’s my somewhat straightforward, recap of the dance that had happened just under two weeks ago.

For starters, as it’s often overlooked, girls aren’t the only ones around town that spend hours and extreme effort in perfecting their looks for the big night. I mean, guys deserve a little praise here and there as well. The signature khaki-pants, button down, sport coat and tie look isn’t as easy to pull off as it seems. As a matter of fact, I know plenty of guys who pour their absolute heart and soul into crafting an outfit that tops even their Sunday bests. Personally, the part I feel that most people fail to realize is how much work actually goes into looking good. The first battle is finding that dang tie–the same tie Mom had bought for you hours before the Homecoming dance freshman year that has now decided that it doesn’t want to show itself when you need it most? Where is that damn thing. Once you find ol’ standby, you’re immediately put to the one test that separates boys from men: finding just the right YouTube tutorial and tying it yourself. Then comes the hair. Lord,  the hair. Try getting a haircut appointment at your mom’s salon in Lake Forest in the week of the dance–virtually impossible. Then, once it’s trimmed and layered to perfection, it’s gel time, baby. Most guys allot at least 25 minutes to do their hair for the dance. Any more is questionable, any less is lazy. Once you’ve made your best efforts on the tie and quaff that combover, you are most certainly ready for the next big leap on this electrifying journey: the pre-party.

First things first, what’s not to like about a pre-party? You stroll into a room with your date, your group of friends, or even solo as a lone wolf, feeling good, embracing yourself for an hour or two of uncomfortably long “small talk” with your date’s parents and taking only four thousand pictures. But what’s there to sweat, both literally and figuratively? You’ve applied more than your daily dose of Old Spice deodorant because it’ll hide those nasty pit stains, and we all know it’s just what the ladies love. Top it off with some of your dad’s unused cologne and you’re as good as Scouts gold. Yet, the real confidence booster here is that you’ve broken out the same exact outfit that you’ve worn for the last two or three dances, so how could you possibly not be feeling the three C’s: calm, cool, and collected. I’m not completely sure, but for some odd reason, the living room–where all the festivities are taking place–feels as if it’s getting warmer by the second. Maybe it’s because there’s somewhere around twenty-five people crammed in the corner of a room around a glorified beige-colored futon. But who knows? Whatever the reason, you make your way towards the sanctuary that is the water cooler, avoiding “small-talk” with your go-to, quick half-smile, raise of the eyebrows, and a wave, while thoroughly enjoying a Sprite (or a LaCroix if you’re cutting cals). Adjusting your sport coat from your 8th grade graduation, you decide to go with a more casual, laid back look because we all know the second you try and button it up someone could end up with a black eye. Yet, none of that seems to phase you as you get your water bottle, hydrate up, and put your game face on. Determined as ever, you force-a-smile your way through countless pictures, pray to God that you’re not blinking in just one of them for a change, and prepare yourself to take on the night’s real source of entertainment: the actual dance.

I’m going to be pretty brief in describing what goes down at the dance because describing to you the dance itself would be like a middle-aged man reminiscing on his high school heroics to his kids–nothing all that interesting and a lot of overzealous embellishment. On the bright side, you get the rare opportunity to feel claustrophobic, drench yourself in your own sweat, partially damage your hearing, and listen to the songs that bring you back to your glory days of 7th grade, all for the price of one! Not to mention, you could get away with telling someone that you had just ran a marathon, considering how you’ve managed to sweat through your layers and layers of cologne and deodorant. Nevertheless, you break out the closest things in your power that resembles dance moves, striking concern in those around you as it appears you may be suffering in someway. You proceed to dance the night away, or for the twenty minutes you actually spend at the dance before ditching it for a post-party.

So now we’re at the part all teenage parents have been dying to hear: what in the h-e-double hockey sticks goes on after the dance itself? And parents, to that question I have one answer, and one answer only. A wise man once said, “A true magician never reveals his secrets,” so on behalf of the entire male population in LF, I plan on keeping it that way. Even though it’s most likely the answer you weren’t looking for, I can assure all mothers out there that most teenage males, myself included, pride ourselves on being the most responsible, mature, diligent students of life inside and outside the classroom. With that said, you would most likely find the teenage male demographic of LFHS congregating together in study sessions around town, or even trying to get ahead on next week’s homework. I know, just what you would expect, right? After all, there are only a few males brazen enough to engage in actual conversation with someone of the opposite sex, so there is that hurdle holding us back. 

The night itself may end with the “post-party,” or whatever you’d like to title the late night studious efforts of the male population of Lake Forest, but the memories of such a night will forever remain in our hearts.